NFT Art: What It Is and Where To Buy

crypto art nft 3d
Arkadiusz Warguła /

Whether or not you know how they work, you must have heard about NFTs. They became extremely popular this past year after a digital artist named Beeple sold an NFT for $69.3 million online.

In this guide, we will explain what crypto art is and where to buy NFTs.

What Is an NFT?

A non-fungible token or NFT is a digital asset that you can collect. It holds value in cryptocurrency and can be bought or sold.

These tokens are considered non-fungible because you cannot exchange one NFT for another. For instance, if you have 1 Bitcoin, you can exchange it for another Bitcoin and still have one Bitcoin, functionally identical to the first. Thus, Bitcoin is a fungible token.

On the other hand, an NFT cannot be exchanged since two NFTs do not have the same value, since every NFT has a unique digital signature.

How Do NFTs Work?

NFTs are present on a blockchain, usually Ethereum, and are “minted” or created from digital objects that can represent intangible or tangible assets, such as:

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Even legendary tweets can be sold as NFT art. For instance, Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, sold his first-ever tweet as an NFT for $2.9 million.

Crypto Art As Proof of Concept

Before NFTs came to the surface, it was hard to cash in on making digital art. No one believed that digital artists could earn millions of dollars for a single artwork.

However, as NFTs became more mainstream, arthouses and artists started seeing the untapped potential of the digital art market. Sotheby’s, Christie’s and other fine art auction houses opened their doors for digital art and held NFT exhibitions.

Did You Know?

Art connoisseurs can also indulge in a new form of collection with the rise of NFT art.

To some, it is pretty baffling that a piece of digital art could sell for millions.

Mike Winklemann, commonly known as Beeple and the seller of the historic million-dollar NFT discussed earlier, explained it in a School of Motion podcast: “The value is the scarcity, and other people want it. That’s it. If nobody wanted it, there would be no value.”

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What Do You Get When You Buy an NFT?

When you buy an NFT, you get a piece digitally signed by the artist. The sale is tracked on the Blockchain so that nobody else can claim ownership of the NFT.

Metadata and unique ID manage the ownership of an NFT. Each minted token comes with a unique identifier linked to an address hosted on a blockchain, such as Ethereum.

You can either hold the NFT in your wallet forever or sell it down the road. In some cases, the original creator of the NFT will get royalties from the resale.

What Does This Mean for Artists and Collectors?

For artists, this means they can expand their source of income by tokenizing their work, such as digital art, memes, videos or music.

Artists can leverage smart contracts to ensure consistent income. A smart contract refers to a digital contract set in code, which can be programmed to execute if certain predefined conditions are met.

How Crypto Art Is Minted

Crypto art is minted via smart contracts that then assign ownership to the creator and manage transferability. When you mint an NFT, you execute the code in a smart contract. Smart contracts must comply with specific standards, like the ERC-721.

As a result, the information gets added to the blockchain managing the NFT. The creator’s public key becomes a permanent part of that token’s history. Therefore, the original artists can receive royalties every time the NFT is sold.

For instance, platforms such as Zora and Foundation give royalties to the artists. Likewise, Euler Beats Originals’ owners get 8% in royalty whenever the royalty is sold further.

Providing Artists a Different Place To Display Their Work

Traditionally, artists have to rely on an intermediary to make their work available to the public: galleries, record labels, publishers and others.

For selling NFTs, artists can use different NFT marketplaces and platforms, such as SuperRare, Foundation VIV3, OpenSea, NFT ShowRoom and Axie Marketplace.

For art collectors, NFTs are a means of making profits. You can buy a piece of crypto art in the hope it will increase in value a few years down the line. Then you can resell it for a profit.

Crypto Art Scene

The first experiment in crypto art was carried out by Anil Dash and Kevin McCoy, who wanted to create “monetized graphics.” The idea was born when people were sharing media on Tumblr without any compensation or attribution, leaving artists high and dry when it came to capitalizing on their work, even if the work was very successful.

McCoy and Dash managed to create the first blockchain-backed method of asserting ownership over a digital artwork, and they did not patent this idea. They believe technology should enable artists to control their work so that others cannot appropriate it without their permission.

Empowering Artists

By creating monetized graphics, the duo wanted to prevent the technology from becoming another method of exploiting artists. Dash believes that their vision to empower artists has not come true, although it has created a lot of “commercially exploitable hype.”

After them, John Watkinson and Matt Hall made a set of pixelated head collectible characters. They made 10,000 of these CryptoPunks and sold 9,000, keeping the rest to themselves and hoping they would increase in value with time.

Initially, this project did not get much hype. But when Mashable wrote an article about CryptoPunks’ influence on digital art, the Punks sold out in just a day. One recent sale of a Punk, CryptoPunk 7253, also known as Covid Alien, garnered $11.75 million at Sotheby’s.

NFTs and Sports

NFTs have also made a big splash in the sports world. Many people around the world watch sports, and many of those are die-hard fans who would pay thousands for their favorite player’s autographs or a signed item.

NBA Top Shot pioneered sports NFTs by allowing fans to bid on digital highlight reels. The highlights were called “moments” and the buyers could keep them in their online wallets.

With over a million users, NBA Top Shot is among the most successful NFT projects. By Feb 2021, $230 million had been spent on the platform trading and buying digital collectibles.

The crypto market overheated during 2019, and by the following year, the prices of crypto art pieces were through the roof. As cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and Bitcoin saw a price increase, the value of NFTs also rose.

What Does the Future Hold for NFTs?

As for the future, NFTs seem to be going strong, despite the pandemic and changes in the crypto market. Mintable, an NFT marketplace backed by the billionaire Mark Cuban, raised $13 million in its Series A Round. Cuban was not the only renowned investor involved with the project. Other investors, such as Expedia Group, 640 Oxford Ventures, Spark Digital Capital, and Digital Finance Group, also partook in the event.

Where To Buy NFT Art?

You can buy NFT art from several marketplaces, including:

  • Nifty Gateway
  • SuperRare
  • Async Art
  • MakersPlace
  • KnownOrigin
  • Foundation
  • Zora
  • OpenSea

All these platforms have different kinds of art pieces, such as music, digital paintings, images, PDFs and more.

Alternatively, you can buy NFT art from arthouse auctions, such as the ones at Sotheby’s or Christie’s. Sotheby’s sold its first NFT in an online auction in June this year.

Meanwhile, Beeple’s $69.3 million artwork was sold at Christie’s.

Where To Sell NFT Art?

If you are an artist and want to know where to sell NFT art, you can check out the following platforms:

  • SuperRare
  • Foundation
  • BakerySwap
  • OpenSea
  • Rarible
  • KnownOrigin
  • AtomicMarket
  • Myth Market
  • Enjin Marketplace
  • Portion

Another way to sell your NFT art would be to auction it at an art house. Even younger artists are getting in on the action at major auction houses. Eighteen-year-old FEWOCiOUS is the youngest featured artist at Christie’s, his digital art selling for an impressive $2.1 million.

Final Take

NFTs are extremely popular and earn artists millions. While not everyone who mints an NFT will become a crypto art millionaire, NFTs have debunked the myth that digital art is unprofitable.

About the Author

Scott Jeffries is a seasoned technology professional based in Florida. He writes on the topics of business, technology, digital marketing and personal finance. After earning his bachelor’s in Management Information Systems with a minor in Business, Scott spent 15 years working in technology. He's helped startups to Fortune 100 companies bring software products to life. When he's not writing or building software, Scott can be found reading or spending time outside with his kids.

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